TEXT OF COMMENTARY
MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Beginning today the Transportation Security Administration will allow you to carry limited amounts of liquids and gels in your carry-on luggage. This is the second revision of the ban on liquids. The restrictions followed a foiled plot to blow up airlines headed to the U.S. from Britain. Commentator Christopher Elliot thinks the ban should dropped completely.
CHRISTOPHER ELLIOT: Since August, air travelers haven’t been able to bring so much as a tube of toothpaste on a plane. That was one kind of headache.
Everything had to be checked in or thrown out.
Now, after weeks of pressure from unhappy airlines, passengers and airport vendors, the TSA has partially lifted its ban on carry-on liquids. But that isn’t likely to make everyone happy. I, for one, still have a headache.
Part of the problem is that I just don’t understand the new rule.
According to the TSA, travelers will be allowed to carry “travel-size toiletries, three ounces or less, that fit comfortably in one quart-size, clear plastic, zip-top bag.”
Huh? By the time I’ve figured out what that means, I’ll have missed my flight.
And it isn’t just passengers like me who are going to be inconvenienced.
Since air travel is still going to be a hassle, airlines aren’t likely to be pleased either. The more hoops their customers have to jump through at security checkpoints, the more business they stand to lose. And that, at a time when they can hardly afford to lose it.
Same goes for airport merchants. Travelers may now bring items bought in a secure boarding area on the plane. And that includes drinks.
But will customers go for it? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Air travelers with a stopover might have second thoughts about buying any merchandise at all – because it could get confiscated at the next screening area.
Here’s what the TSA should have done weeks ago: Lift its ban on carry-on liquids. Completely.
The terrorists aren’t dummies. By now, they’ve probably come up with another way of bringing down a plane that doesn’t involve combustible liquids.
They’ve moved on. So should we.
THOMAS: Christopher Elliott is National Geographic Traveler’s ombudsman.
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